When it comes to low-impact workouts, nothing can beat hiking. It comes with numerous mental as well as physical perks. Hiking helps reduce stress in addition to being a good cardiovascular workout.
But, unpredictable variables are also a big part of hiking. They are one of the things that make hiking more fun than walking on a paved path or treadmill. Here is what you need to do and what you need to get to make your first hike successful.
Find a Hiking Partner
Do you have a friend who likes to hike? Ask them to bring you along next time. Most people are happy to introduce newbies to their favorite activity, let you borrow their gear, and share their expertise.
Even if you don’t have friends who are hikers, chances are there is a hiking club in your town. Such clubs usually plan outings on a regular basis. Online groups, like MeetUp, are also a great place to find hiking companions.
If you’re new to hiking, It’s best to go hiking with someone who has more experience, at least until you get the hang of it. Moreover, in case you get hurt, it’d be great to have someone be there to lend a hand.
However, some people still prefer solitude. Hiking by yourself is a great way of experiencing outdoors, but you should make sure to do your fair share of research first. Also, stick to a short and popular hiking destination when hiking for the first time.
Make sure to tell someone where and when you’re going hiking and how long you plan to be gone. Still, before you gain enough experience to enjoy the freedom of hiking all by yourself, it’s best to bring a hiking buddy along for the first few times.
Choose a Route
There are plenty of websites and online guidebooks, such as the Hiking Project, that can help you choose a great route near you. Such sites offer information such as trail difficulty, features, directions, and elevation gains.
You can also do things the old-fashioned way and rely on word of mouth. Ask your hiking buddies for some suggestions. It’s always a great idea to talk to the locals as well. Call a ranger station or contact a local hiking organization in the area.
Tips for Choosing a Route
When choosing a hiking route, consider the following:
- Your fitness level: You would want to avoid going on a long, strenuous hike if you are not prepared for it. Honestly assess your fitness level. You shouldn’t be dismayed if you are not in the shape of your life. There is a hiking route for everyone.
- How much time you have: Can you dedicate the whole weekend to this? One full day? Or just a couple of hours? Factor in how long it takes to complete the trail you are considering.
- Distance: 3 mph is the average walking pace. How many miles are you comfortable hiking? Keep in mind that the elevation gain, type of terrain, and the amount of gear you’re carrying may slow you down.
- The season and the weather: If you’d like to go hiking in the spring, do know that many trails are not accessible at this time of year because they are covered in snow. The sun sets earlier in the fall. If you want to go on a hike this time of the year, make sure you’ll have enough daylight to complete the trail. No matter the season, make sure to check the weather forecast before you head out.
- Logistics: Some routes require a bit more planning. For example, if the trail starts in one town and ends in another, you’ll need to have your car shuttle logistics figured out.
Choose Your Hiking Gear
It’s always best to pack light. And, one of the best things about hiking is that you don’t have to bring a bunch of high-tech gear. But, for your first hike to be a success, it’s very important to pack right.
Make sure to bring “the Ten Essentials”. This list includes hydration, nutrition, repairs, fire, illumination, insulation, navigation, first aid, emergency shelter, and sun protection.
Hiking footwear is a very personal choice, but it is one of the most important items you need to have. You need to make sure to find the right hiking shoes or hiking boots for you. For instance, if the terrain is rugged, sturdy boots may be the best choice.
If the trail is without many obstacles then lightweight, low-cut shoes will do fine. The key is to make sure that the shoes you choose are comfortable and well-broken in.
Choose clothing made of polyester or wool. These fabrics are moisture-wicking and quick-drying. It’s best to avoid cotton as it’s not quick drying. This goes for both pants and next-to-skin base layers. It’s also a good idea to bring a waterproof jacket.
For a successful hike, preparation is key. It’s very important to know what to expect and what to bring. And, for the best outdoor experience, it’s best to find a hiking partner.